Tucson, Ariz. native Stacie Eichinger said she tried skydiving, the famous Running of the Bulls and countless other thrill seeking ventures.
She made her way through Milledgeville and Baldwin County the last two days on the most recent adventure. Her family probably wasn't that surprised about the mission.
“I do pretty wild things,” she joked. “This is on par with Stacie.”
Eichinger is nearly done with 'Walk 4 Courage,' a trek across America from Washington to Savannah, Ga. in support of the Beads of Courage program.
According to beadsofcourage.org, the program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness.
Through the program, children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage commemorating milestones achieved along their unique treatment path, the website states.
Eichinger visited numerous Beads of Courage program hospitals throughout the nationwide walk.
“I've visited 19 so far,” she said.
Every $10 received sponsors a mile and a shoe bead.
“The bead comes with a card,” Eichinger said. “I write how many miles and what states I've walked through with it, so they can add it to their collection.”
Beads of Courage is based in Tucson, so Eichinger volunteers often. The walk generated some excitement.
“I just packaged beads and hadn't met anybody yet,” she said. “I finally met this little girl who had lung cancer. She was happy, healthy and cancer free. She told me about her beads and how they wrap around her room twice. It put a new perspective on the meaning of a bead.”
From city to city, Eichinger depends on generosity for housing and other support. A hot meal or a shower can really change the mood.
“When I need it, it just shows up,” she said. “Most of the time I stay with a family every night.”
The solidarity doesn't bother the cross-country walker. It's not always a social event in some areas.
“There was a stretch of five days with no towns,” Eichinger said.
Eichinger pushes a supply cart with camping and nutritional necessities all those miles. It can get close to 100 pounds depending on the load.
The 3,000-plus mile walk destroys her footwear. 'Walk 4 Courage' has placed eight pairs on the sideline since May.
Currently, a GPS watch reads around 3,400 miles down. Eichinger pointed toward Sandersville Monday afternoon.
To date, the effort has collected more than $20,600.
If the trip stays on course, 'Walk 4 Courage' ends on Tybee Island Saturday, Feb. 1.
“People ask me if I ever think about quitting. As cliché as it sounds, I can't quit. What does that say to the kids on their journeys? They can't stop,” Eichinger said.